Friday, June 17, 2011

Corker Kiwi Bach

Whilst examining the bananas at the grocery store yesterday - as a good housewife does -  lo and behold there on the magazine rack was Kiwi friend Kate on the front cover of style bible Dwell . She and architect husband Jed are pictured at their stylee beachouse, which you may have read about on my blog when I was back in NZ in January. So...and I've always wanted to write read it here first.

June cover of Dwell: Kate and Jed's bach 
Congratulations Kate and Jed!  So here is my blogpost from January. Is it green - or just lazy - to re-cycle posts in Blogland?

The new New Zealand bach
For those who don't know what a "bach" is,  take off your jandals (flip-flops), grab a fizzy drink (soda) and put your feet're in for a treat. A bach, pronounced batch and called a "crib" in the South Island, is essentially a small beach house. But it's so much more than that really, it's been an iconic way of life for Kiwis for decades. Back in New Zealand I thought - how the wee bach has changed! Or...has it? 

Jed and Kate's beachhouse, Kapiti Coast, NZ, January
In the olden days, come Friday night you'd pack your chilly bin (cooler) and head for your cottage on the coast. It was probably pink or yellow wood with a tin roof which made it boiling in the summer and noisy when it rained but it's all hunky dory. Maybe outside loos and no running water. Inside there are Formica tables, vinyl floor tiles, a Hamilton milkshake maker, bunk beds galore and nothing that can't get heaps of sand and salt on it. And a big lawn out the front for all your rellies (relatives) to park their tents and caravans. Just grab some TT2s (Tip Top ice-blocks) for the kiddies from the corner diary (store) and ice for your supersonic GandT's and Bob's Yer Uncle! 

Of course that's way it was when we were kids, but it's been 25 years since I left New Zealand and I see that many of the baches up and down the coast have evolved into something so much swisher. Last week I visited two old Uni friends at their weekend houses on the Kapiti Coast just North of Wellington.  Their baches were incredibly stylish and with all the mod cons (dishwashers! washing machines!) but essentially retain the same laid-back sense of the barefoot barbie on the lawn and gutting fish out the back.

My friend "Jed" ( Gerald Parsonson ),  now a respected and admired architect, designed his own beach house (pics above and below) for his family of five. It's stunningly modern and colourful. But what impresses is also how understated and unpretentious it is and how very comfortable. You feel immediately at home, not constantly fussing about the sand on your feet or what you are wearing, which surely is just how it should be. What's also amazing is that it was built ten years ago and still feels so surprising and fresh.

For the past decade this bach has collected many design awards and has been featured in magazines, newspapers and glossy coffee table books. This week it's being photographed for Dwell magazine. In his website Jed says he "intended that the house create a story of passage from suburbia to the beach and horizons beyond." The fibre cement sheet boxes are the base with lighter forms around the outside and the living room is a raised Pavilion.

Jed was still out fishing, so his wife Kate showed me around, laughing at all my manic picture taking and all my "ooh" and "aah"ing. The lower cabinetry in the kitchen is orange with the upper shelves open. Many walls are white but some are painted the blues and greens of the ocean.

Upstairs you can telescope out to sea all day. 

My sandy foot on the stairs, oops sorry guys
The hallway to the three bedrooms at the back features dramatic red stained glass and the bathrooms use corrugated iron, concrete and steel, with amusing touches such as this old photo of the Royal Family.

Another treasure is out the back; a separate wee house with four bunks, Foosball and a shimmering corrugated iron bathroom.

Jed arrives back from fishing and we catch up about old friends and Kiwi architecture vs American. Watch out for my fishy hands, he says, as we pose for a pic next to his red tractor.

Jed with his catch of the day

Me and Jed in their backyard
I wander back down the beach to where I am staying with my childhood friend Helena. Her bach has retained some of it's old Fifties vibe, with photos from that era and mid-century furniture gathered from auction houses, friends and curio stores and re-covered in sky-blue and stripes.

Helena's place

Outside with views to the protected Kapiti Island, these reclaimed-wood chairs and table are still wearing the rusted chains and iron parts of their old life.

Has relaxation been perfected here? Rita, a veritable coastal cruiser of a cat (oops couldn't resist that alliteration....or is it consonance?)  seems to think so, but she does deign to raise her head for a photo. How's it going puss?  "Good as Gold" she seems to say.

Rita in front of Kapiti Island


  1. Wow is all I can say! It's lovely! And of course your personal commentary beats reading a magazine any day! Wishing you a wonderful weekend Jody, it's a bit chilly here, but hoping it will warm up!

    xo Mary Jo

  2. I remember when you were there, thats so exciting! Congrats to your friends! Happy weekend! :)

  3. This is so cool Jody! I love the homes near the beach- where you can invite tons of people, and not worry about everything being kept perfectly pristine.

    Just wish I had close friends or family that owned one!

  4. That is such a beautifully lush house!

  5. What a lovely bach (new word for me. great to know!). I would love a beach house like this. So beautiful!

  6. I think recycling such a great post is quite alright!

  7. What a perfect house! I'm so jealous....

  8. a great part of my NZ education has been understanding the bach. You are right, NZers have perfected the art of relaxation with the bach. We go to our in-laws' one at Waihi Beach and some other friends have one at Whangamata. We are cosidering buying a bach all the way up the top of the Coromandel in Tuateawa. You must have been as proud as punch seeing your friends featured on the magazine.

  9. J'adore. My sister-in-law lives in NZ and I can't wait to visit her.

  10. What a wonderful way to live. Seems so relaxed — perhaps too relaxed (if such a thing is possible). Glad you shared this with us.

  11. If it hadn't already been in one, I would say that it looks likes something out of a magazine. Beautiful and enviable!

  12. Very cool.....looks friendly and relaxing and fun.

  13. i love seeing your photos always :) so beautiful

  14. Dreeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaming of the life! Supposed to be at the beach today (concrete-surrounded pebbley Bexhill-On-Sea, East Sussex) with our gang but gale-force blows and torrentials have put a stop to our larks. So I'm watching 'it' all from my steamed up clatter-roofed 'sun room' - ha ha ha!!!!! (And the steam is just from the tumble-dryer on over-drive - see..... no fun here!)

    Hoping for another sea-side attempt on Tuesday down Camber Sands instead but...... knowing our luck it'll be another sandstorm and we'll be soggily sitting in the car licking ice-cream drips off our youngest.

    I want some laid-back sunny beach glamour!!!!!!

  15. I want a bach too!! Gorgeous.

  16. haha - definitely green to recycle :) what a great place!

  17. I am green with envy now. Why do I live in London again....?

  18. Now to hold a contest to give away a bach, specifically in NZ as it looks so fab... oh and even more specifically Kate and Jed's because it looks completely fabulous! I would enter over and over and over and over... ;)

  19. I'm so glad you re-posted this, because I didn't know about your blog back in January, so what a treat! Loved reading about this amazing kiwi bach suited even for the kings. Also, thanks for constantly expanding my vocabulary. LOL

  20. Agree with Soccer Mom style above - definitely worth a second viewing, especially when we didn't see it first time round. How I love nosing around other people's homes - this bach is relaxed, unfussy but so stylish.

  21. How amazing! What a beautiful home. Just a TINY jealous :)

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